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January 29, 2021

Forged in the Fire

Bitwise is known for our colorful and dynamic spaces, they’re pretty hard to miss if you’re driving down Freeway 41 or around downtown Fresno. Whether you’re admiring the 360 degree mural on the outside of the Hive, or the sleek signage adorning the top edge of Bitwise 41, most people get their first impression of Bitwise through our buildings. If our buildings could talk, they’d probably say, “If you like what you see, you should really check out what’s going on inside! Come on in!”

While their outward appearance catches the eye, what happens inside our buildings is actually what moves the soul. These are sacred spaces, where startups finalize their first client deals, coding courses offer new career opportunities, elementary students tour a technology company right in their own backyard. These are moments that truly make the work that we do at Bitwise worthwhile. From our finance teams to the marketing department, human resources to leasing—those moments remind us of why we do what we do.

When the world suddenly screeched to a halt last year, our buildings emptied and our employees went home. Since then, Bitwise remains strangely silent and unusually empty. But in the stillness, one small-but-mighty team continued to show up each day, working with a stealth effectiveness pivotal to keeping our sacred spaces safe and in order.

BLDG is our Building Services team, handling janitorial to security, reception to fleet management, and everything in between. A group of unsung heroes during the everyday hustle and bustle of Bitwise, their work often goes unnoticed, but that work is paramount to keeping Bitwise running smoothly. Sandi Olguin, Chief Real Estate Officer for Bitwise, leads this team; a group of folks she has become even more thankful for over the events of this past year.

“Imagine you see a duck in a pond and it’s just cruising along,” Sandi said. “It may look calm, just floating around but underneath the surface, that duck is paddling like crazy just to stay above water. That’s exactly what BLDG does. Any time, any day, we are as cool as cucumbers. But on the inside, we’re running around making stuff happen.”

To put it simply, Bitwise doesn’t run without BLDG. They’re a group of hardworking, hands-on team members dedicated to taking care of our buildings from top to bottom. Their work impacts every person who walks through the doors of a Bitwise building; whether you are an employee, tenant, or just a visitor. BLDG is the smiling face behind the reception desks, the invisible hands behind the regularly cleaned and restocked facilities, and the meticulous minds that make up the on-site repair teams when something goes wrong or when something could be improved.

It’s been almost a year since Bitwise shifted our teams to remote work, a timeline that was at first only supposed to last two weeks. But even two weeks at home was hard to fathom for BLDG, whose entire job centered around being in the buildings and the people who filled them. Without folks coming in and out of the office, there isn’t a need for constant cleaning, restocking, repairs, and other everyday tasks BLDG takes care of.

“I came back from the Directors’ meeting where it was announced we were going remote for at least two weeks, and my immediate thought was do my people even still have a job? We have to be in the buildings to do our jobs.”

– Sandi Olguin

The decision was made to keep BLDG working in the buildings, primarily because there were select tenants who were continuing to operate in their spaces – which meant the buildings needed to continue being kept up while the Bitwise team worked from home. Plus, just because our teams were working remote, didn’t mean there wasn’t work to be  done in buildings. Security needed to stay on duty to make sure our facilities were safe. Mail still needed to be received, sorted, and delivered to tenants. Bathrooms and common areas still needed to be cleaned and sanitized—now more than ever. And in the face of this new challenge, Sandi’s team was ready to step up and go beyond the call of duty. 

“I remember telling them the news,” Sandi said. “And their first reaction was: ‘How do we help? Put me in coach. I’m ready to go solve this problem. I’m ready to go help our community.’”

Buildings that used to be full of conversation and community were suddenly emptied overnight. Doors closed, windows shuttered, hallways silent. It was an unusual sight, but one familiar image broke through—the BLDG team, quietly continuing the work they had always done, with a newfound sense of importance in light of the new normal.

“You couldn’t ask for better people. Their hearts are pure. They’re just good people who want to help all the time.”

– Sandi Olguin

The world was changing in front of our eyes, but BLDG was working to make sure that not only were our buildings being cared for, but the tenants who stayed behind retained a sense of normalcy that was crucial to their well-being. It was the simple things—someone sitting at the reception desk, mail continuing to be delivered, bathrooms continuing to be cleaned. BLDG even decorated the buildings for Christmas; a tradition that was kept this year for the few folks who still walked through the doors. It was little things that often go unnoticed, but are part of BLDG’s everyday responsibilities to make sure that even though the majority of our team were working from home, our tenants and community would not get left behind.

The examples are endless.

Amanda, who continued to keep our fleet of vehicles washed and filled—while balancing a sanitizing schedule to keep the buildings and accommodations clean.

Santana, who stayed on call for emergencies—repairing burst pipes and broken windows at the Hive.

Tony, who when the security team was short-staffed, worked 12 hours a day—helping tenants feel safe during the eerie silence of empty buildings.

Lizzie, originally hired to be a receptionist, jumped in to help with “Little Bits,” our company child care program, while continuing to deliver mail to tenants.

“It’s a great group of people,” Sandi said. “I love my job, but I can’t do it effectively if I don’t have a great team. And that’s exactly what I have.”

The phrase “forged in the fire” is often used to describe the growth that happens within individuals during trying times. Challenges, while difficult, often bring us to become stronger people. The roadblocks we face in life allow us to stretch and grow, developing important perspectives that allow us to be better humans in the future.

It is without a doubt that BLDG has truly been forged in the fire during this turbulent year, growing to be an even stronger and important part of the greater Bitwise community. The deep appreciation for their hard work extends beyond our team—to tenants who continue to walk through the doors of our buildings, to community members who see a BLDG team member wiping down door handles and windows, keeping things running as they always have been.

“I’m super thankful for Bitwise and the work that we still have the opportunity to do,” Sandi stated. “For our tenants, for our community, for downtown Fresno. I’m looking forward to getting our family back together; the community, employees, all of us safely together. It’s going to be great.”

Many of us at Bitwise are looking forward to the day we can return to our office spaces in the buildings. We miss our brick and mortar community; the conversations in hallways, afternoon coffee in the cafe, visiting tenants and friends one floor down. We will return one day, that’s a given. And we’ll be returning to a place well-cared-for in our absence, thanks to BLDG and their tireless work for us, and for our community still in buildings. Sweeping floors, and emptying garbage. Keeping offices safe and doors locked. Delivering mail and fixing repairs. Showing up every single day to make sure the work is done.

A team forged in the fire, BLDG continues on. Taking care of today’s responsibilities, and working towards a better tomorrow. And for that, we are truly grateful.

Leah Sadoian is a writer for Bitwise Industries, digital content creator, and Central Valley native. She primarily writes marketing material, website content, and narratives for the Bitwise Stories series. In her free time, Leah enjoys a cold IPA, Law and Order SVU reruns, and spending time with her cat, Marge.